MPC Note Repeats Tutorial with Impulse

Learn how to create classic MPC snare rolls with Impulse

Photo credit: Jaymis Loveday

Looking to add a little more flavor to your live drum programming?

For years, owners of the legendary Akai MPC series have been able to create stuttering note repeats and drum rolls with the flick of switch. Today I am going to show you how to achieve these exact same results with a copy of Ableton Live’s Impulse Drum Machine and Beat Repeat.

Thanks to Daniel for this great tutorial idea!

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Top 5 Free VST Plugins For Ableton Live (Mac Edition)

Here are our favorite free plugins for Mac OS X.

Photo credit: M Maeghan Donovan

It’s been a long time coming Mac users, but here is a definitive guide to 5 free VST plugins for Mac OS X. They can be used in any music production program that support VST, but since this is a blog dedicated to Ableton Live, these are – of course – geared towards electronic music production.

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How To Create An Analog Drum Machine Collection In Ableton

Learn how to create a free collection of authentic analog Drum Machines using free samples found on the web and Ableton’s Drum Rack.

Photo credit: David J

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can create your very own collection of classic, analog drum machines, all for free! We’ll be using the classic Roland TR-606 drum machine in this example. However, the techniques shown in this tutorial will work for any of the dozens of drum machine samples found at Music Machines: samples.

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How To Create A Phased Out Retro Synth Pad With Analog

Learn how to program a swooshing analog synth pad with just Ableton’s Analog Synthesizer and it’s humble Phaser plug-in.

Photo credit: David J

Synth pads are versatile. They can serve as the lush background for a full track, or (in a lot of Ambient music’s case) serve as the front-man on tracks. Either way, pads are fun to program and even funner to play. In this tutorial i’ll show you how to carve out a nice, phase-ey retro synth pad with Ableton’s Analog.

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How To Program A Bass Sound In Ableton’s Operator

In this tutorial, I show you how to take Ableton’s FM Synthesizer – Operator – and sculpt a simple bass sound that is worthy of matching Operator’s fatter cousin; Analog.

Operator may not be the first synth you would consider for bass in Ableton Live (usually that’s reserve for the much fatter “Analog”). However, with minimal tweaking, you can program your own, smooth bass sounds in a matter of minutes.

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How To Use Automation In Ableton Live’s Arrangement View

Automation is a very powerful aspect of Ableton Live, learn the basics of Automation in Ableton’s Arrangement View to add more interest to your composition and sound design.

Here is a quick video demonstrating some of the basics when it comes to using automation envelopes in Ableton Live’s Arrangement View.

How To Change The Feel Of A Beat With Triplets

In this video tutorial, I show you the basics of how triplets can affect 4/4 beat. Dabrye’s track “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” is used for our example.

In this video I will be using Dabrye’s song “Hyped-Up Plus Tax” as a reference point to showing how powerful changing even just a couple notes to triplets in a 4/4 beat can help change the entire feel of it.

I chopped the original melody by warping it, and matching it to the metronome. After that, it was a matter of figuring out the drum pattern of the beat.

How To Get That Crazy Electro House Bass Sound

Bigger is better when it comes to Electro House bass sounds. Learn to how to program one from scratch in Ableton Live with this tutorial.

Photo credit: Rodrigo Senna

You know…the one that sounds like an elephant with auto-tune is charging after you.

Electro house bass sounds consist of stacks of synthesizers. They’re big and they will hit you right in the gut. Oh, and did I mention they’re really fun to program?

For this tutorial we’ll be using Ableton Live’s Instrument Rack (for stacking our synths), some creative automation and some sidechain compression.

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How To Create Transitions For Your Songs In Ableton Live

Transitions in electronic music (especially dance music) have become a staple of modern arrangement. Find out how to create your own in Ableton Live.

Usually associated with bridging a verse to a chorus or introducing a bridge, transitions are a staple of most modern electronic music. Here are a couple of transition techniques for Ableton Live to help you bridge the gap.



The Reverse Cymbal

Simple, yet effective, the reverse cymbal effect is a great way to quickly introduce a breakdown.

1.) Grab a sample of a crash cymbal with a fairly long decay.

2.) Drop it into Ableton’s Arrangement View.

3.) Click the sample once and open the clip waveform view.

4.) Under the sample section click the “Rev.” button.

5.) If your cymbal has enough decay, the build should last for about 1 measure.

6.) Make sure it buttes right up theto end of the measure before the breakdown.

7.) Add Reverb to taste.


The Reverse Vocal Swell

Reverse vocals swells are not only great for transitioning to certain a chorus or a breakdown, but also very effective at leading into vocals.

1.) Start an audio track underneath your vocal or acapella track in Arrangement View.

2.) Select a small snippet (usually 1 bar will do) from the vocals and copy it (Ctrl+Drag) into the newly created audio track.

3.) Add a Reverb to the audio track with the copied vocal snippet.

4.) Crank the reverb decay up to about 6-7 seconds.

5.) Start one more audio track (3 total, including the original), and set it’s audio source to the track with the 1 bar audio snippet and Reverb.

6.) Arm the new empty audio track and record the reverb/snippet vocal. Make sure to let the entire reverb tail fade.

7.) You can delete the snippet track, but keep the newly recorded version.

8.) Click on the newly recorded part and reverse it using step 4 in the “Reverse Cymbal” section above.

9.) Place it right against the main vocal melody and fine tune the end of the swell with volume automation and cropping.


The Machine Gun Snare Roll

This technique is used a lot in Trance, where build ups can be (what seems like) hundreds of measures long. I’ll show you the beginnings of how to do a short snare roll.

1.) Find a sample semi-realistic snare drum with a fast attack and a short decay.

2.) Load it into a MIDI track with drum rack. Be sure to click show/hide devices and turn the release all the way up, and the velocity to 100%.

3.) Create an 8 measure MIDI clip on this track, and set your drum grid to 1/32.

4.) Program one 32nd note at full velocity, and the second at about 70 – 80.

5.) Copy and paste all of the notes to fill the 8 bar loop.

6.) Use the volume automation (on the mixer, not drum rack’s) to slowly build the snare roll in.

7.) Optional: Introduce claps every 2 and 4 of the beat.


The “Swoosh” Transition

A very simply transition that can be easily achieved with white noise and a low pass filter.

1. Load a copy of Analog or Operator (or any other synthesizer that can generate white noise).

2. Select the 1st oscillator to generate white noise.

3. Record a fairly long note (4 measures for this example).

4. Start the low pass filter at about 600 – 800hz and slowly open it until it is maxed out. Use automation, or record your own filter sweep.

5. Edit to taste with Reverb, volume automation or even delay.


I hope these simple, yet effective techniques have given you some good starting points for creating your own transitions in your electronic music. And don’t be afraid to get creative, it’s half the fun!

Ableton Live’s Audio Effect Rack Video Tutorial

Create crazy effects chains with the Audio Effect Rack in Ableton. This is part 1 of our video tutorial series on all 31 of Ableton Live’s built in effects.

This is part one of a video series that will show you how to use each each of Ableton Live’s built in effects. I decided to start alphabetically with the Audio Effect Rack. Stay tuned for more!